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Jun 26, 2013 10:47 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Recent Filming Raises Questions About The Hiring Of Local Police For Security

Jun 26, 2013 1:22 PM
While some Quogue and East Quogue beachgoers were ogling Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton during the filming of 20th Century Fox film “The Other Woman” earlier this month, local law enforcement authorities were busy at work, making sure no one strolled into the camera shot, and dealing with the occasional paparazzi.

That is because both Southampton Town and Quogue Village police, as part of a common yet largely unknown practice, were actually hired by the movie studio to secure the two filming locations: the first near 37B Dune Road in East Quogue, and the other near the private Quogue Beach Club. Both departments sent uniformed, armed officers to patrol the two beaches, on and off, between May 28 and June 15 to provide additional security during 21 different shoots over those dates.

In exchange, agents representing 20th Century Fox have agreed to reimburse both the town and village for the additional security, an accord that will require the studio to shell out still undetermined amounts of money, because neither department has yet tabulated a final figure.

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce estimated this week that about 800 man hours were dedicated to helping the film company’s private crew secure the filming area under his department’s jurisdiction. During the two days that Quogue Village Police officers were securing the beach club location, Lieutenant Chris Isola estimated that approximately 80 man hours were expended.

Officers working security details do so outside of their normal 40-hour work weeks—so as not to detract from the number of on-duty officers—meaning each must be paid their overtime rate. Those rates, however, fluctuate and depend on the salary collected by the individual officers who were assigned the special duty.

Both departments said they will send their bills, likely within the next week, once the calculations have been finalized.

Southampton Town’s special events code permits its police department to collect reimbursement for service provided to private events, while Quogue Village has a special requests section on its commercial filming permit application where police assistance can be requested. Such a practice is common within both police departments, especially when large events are being held in their respective jurisdictions, according to authorities.

For example, Lt. Isola said one Dune Road resident hosts a party every summer that draws so many visitors that it warrants special police attention to monitor and control traffic. Other events, such as parades, festivals and races, also receive police security. Whether or not organizers get billed usually depends on if the event in question takes place in conjunction with the municipality and whether it is a matter of public safety or private interest.

“There’s little difference between a movie shoot or someone asking for a event security,” Chief Pearce said this week “There are many, many special events and they all have to go through the same application process. The movie permit gets security because it involves blocking roadways.”

Many beach visitors thought nothing of the extra police presence during the filming, and some said they found the officers helpful in navigating around the set. But not everyone on the beach during the filming had a positive interaction with the cops.

Jackson Lee, a freelance photographer based in New York City, said he was on the beach on June 6, 12 and 15 to get photos of Ms. Diaz, Ms. Upton and the other actors on set. He alleges that he was accosted by one Quogue Village officer who was performing security duties near the private beach club on June 12.

Mr. Lee alleges that an officer threatened to arrest him if he took his camera out while he proceeded along the public right of way on the beach—the area between the water and high-water mark—and that others unfairly prevented beach-goers from crossing near the shooting area.

“She said I’m working for the film company, but I’m also an officer for the village,” Mr. Lee said of the officers, whose name he did not get. “I wasn’t getting too confrontational because she was getting pretty nasty about it.”

There are two female officers in the Quogue department and both worked security for the event, Lt. Isola said. He is investigating the allegations against the officer in question.

Although Quogue Village gave the studio permission to shoot at the club and construct a temporary sand dune on the beach, 20th Century Fox did not submit a permit to the Southampton Town Trustees until June 5, at least a week after the shooting had started, and it was not approved until June 12.

The studio paid all the necessary application fees to the Town Trustees—totaling $8,170—and Trustee Eric Shultz said this week that he was satisfied the studio and site manager did everything they believed necessary to be in compliance, which included bringing their own monitor to ensure that nearby piping plover nests were not disturbed.

But Mr. Lee questioned whether the police were acting in the best interests of the public or the movie studio, because one of the stipulations required by the Town Trustees is that the public’s access to the beach is not affected. The permit states that the public right of way is not to be impeded, though both Mr. Shultz and Lt. Isola said there is some flexibility. For example, that area can be temporarily blocked off if the studio wanted a shot of an actor running into the water.

Both Chief Pearce and Lt. Isola said that their officers remain under their direction, even when they are paid to provide additional security. Lt. Isola said the only difference is how the department, and village, are ultimately paid.

Quogue Police Chief Robert Coughlan said the point of the reimbursement is not to make extra money for department, but rather to make sure the village isn’t spending money unfairly.

“If you have somebody that has a need for a police presence for their event, they have to pay for it,” Chief Coughlan said, adding that the New York Police Department has a similar protocol for non-charitable sports parades.

Chief Pearce also stated that having event organizers reimburse the cost of policing has become a necessity in recent years because of budget restraints. “There was a time and place when this was absolved in the normal cost of business,” he said of special event coverage. “But in today’s current economic state, with the budget the way it is, we just can’t afford that anymore.”

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I always wondered about who paid for the police during a movie shoot. I wonder if East Hampton gets reimbursed by movie studios too.
By Rich Morey (327), Brooklyn on Jun 28, 13 7:57 AM
The traffic was backed up all the way to East Quoque today, and didn't see one single cop. Now I know where all the cops are.
By chief1 (2516), southampton on Jun 28, 13 9:28 AM
Again Chief, your inability to read a story and understand the point confounds me. The cops at this detail were on overtime, paid for by the film company. Got it now?
By But I'm a blank! (1278), Hampton Bays on Jun 28, 13 1:37 PM
... using this logic - the town should be billing Neptune Beach and Boardy Barn.
By William Rodney (502), southampton on Jun 28, 13 9:48 AM
2 members liked this comment
Exactly right.

If you do things that require public services above that which is routinely afforded to all taxpayers, then you should pay for the additional services you require.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 28, 13 10:36 AM
2 members liked this comment
COULDN'T AGREE MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
By unjustifiedjustice2 (35), East Quogue on Jun 28, 13 1:50 PM
Who is raising the questions, 27east? This is a common practice is a lot of areas.
By But I'm a blank! (1278), Hampton Bays on Jun 28, 13 3:04 PM
The public police depts aren't hired guns they are there for the public.What if one of these fragile gun carrying cops trips and twists his ankle? Who will pay for the disability and possible comp claims? Who will pay for the possible three quarter pay if they need disability retirement? As usual Blanks answer is everyone else does it. Maybe that's the problem everyone else does it and it ain't working. By the way Blank since you are big on reading comprehension did you read the Newsday article ...more
By chief1 (2516), southampton on Jun 29, 13 8:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yes I read the story, its on another site. Keep it there.
By But I'm a blank! (1278), Hampton Bays on Jun 29, 13 11:22 AM
What's next blank will I be able to call the highway department when I need my grass cut? Maybe I can hire the fire department to water my lawn.These are public servants paid to serve the public not private industry. The local cops doing security brings up a big question of liability if something ever happens.The nonsense that goes on locally is unbelievable. Not to mention why do Quoque cops even exist when there sole purpuse is to make speed traps on Montauk Hwy.
By chief1 (2516), southampton on Jun 29, 13 9:40 AM
Again, reading comprehension, Chief. Tell us how the local pds NOT doing this would have changed the traffic you suffered through?
Jun 29, 13 11:23 AM appended by But I'm a blank!
And unless you live in Quogue, why they have a pd is none of your concern.
By But I'm a blank! (1278), Hampton Bays on Jun 29, 13 11:23 AM
It is inappropriate for cops to serve in uniform as private security guards. Not only are uniformed public servants thus subordinating themselves to private individuals rather than their departmental and elected superiors but they are using their public uniforms as advertising to given them a competitive advantage over other security guards. The objection that these cops are just being regular cops, and that it's just that they are paid from a different pocket, is disingenuous. They know that ...more
By highhatsize (3699), East Quogue on Jun 29, 13 10:32 AM
I'm quite sure ground rules are laid out prior to the town and village accepting this deal hat.
If a "square badge" were to attempt to prevent me from walking the beach, it could lead to trouble for him, With leo there, the assumption is made that the film company has all proper permits to restrict the public to a small degree to allow commercial use of public facilities.
By But I'm a blank! (1278), Hampton Bays on Jun 29, 13 11:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
The practice has been going on since the 60's. Basically the well to do would hire cops for their summer parties so their guests would not get parking tickets and there would be some reasonable attempt at traffic control.

That being said, I have seen underage drinking, use of pot, coke, openly, and driving off intoxicated right under the noses of hired security. No I have never heard of a guest locked up because of one of these actions. Basically selective enforcement is what the host ...more
By BruceB (140), Sag Harbor on Jun 30, 13 6:53 PM
Hey, doesn't 27east think a federal investigation on SCPD Chief James Burke is important? My goodness, when they thought there was a federal investigation on the town police ( there wasn't), they wasted no time in reporting it. Here's a hint 27east, this federal inves
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on Jul 1, 13 3:26 PM
It's my guess that since the SCPD does not serve any areas from Eastport to Montauk, it is generally not the concern of the residents reading the local newspaper.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 1, 13 3:55 PM
Investigation will expose former chief Wilson's relationship with Burke. Stay tuned.
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on Jul 1, 13 3:27 PM
Hampton Bays Rotary, Autumn Evening by the Sea, Joyce Oakland, Oaklands Restaurant